Preview: With internationals back, Sounders looking for win over Atlanta

Seattle Sounders FC
PHOTO: Victor Rodriguez will look to make it back into the starting lineup on Sunday, when the Sounders host Atlanta United FC back at home. Photo courtesy of Kara Durrette/Seattle Sounders.

Preview (July 12, 2019) — There is one thing that the Seattle Sounders and Atlanta United have in common. Both teams are MLS Cup champions and have won the coveted title twice. They each have made the playoffs in every season they’ve been in MLS.

Now, that one might be a stretch. Seattle has been around a lot longer than Atlanta. The Sounders began competing in 2009 and have made the playoffs every single year since. In 2016, Seattle captured their title and went back to the final a year later.

Meanwhile, Atlanta is in its third season, making the playoffs in the first two seasons. Last year, the Georgia-club were crowned champions under Tata Martino.

Preview: With internationals back, Sounders looking for win over Atlanta

Now, it’s the Frank de Boer show.

Atlanta had a rough outing in the beginning of the season. Josef Martinez never really hit the gas pedal. Meanwhile, there are now reports that Pity Martinez is heading out on loan. His frustrations with de Boer are also being aired out in the media.

However, Atlanta United has found a way to bounce back into a playoff position. They’re not the dominant first-place team they were last year. Atlanta found a way to get back into third place, but there’s not a lot of breathing room. Right now, Atlanta sits with 30 points in the Eastern Conference. The Montreal Impact are right behind, also with 30 points. New England, who sits on the cusp of the playoffs, but underneath the line, only has 23 points.

Meanwhile, for the Sounders, it’s the opposite. The Sounders are in third place and primed for another playoff appearance. However, the Sounders started off the season strong. That was unusual for the Sounders, who are historically slow season starters. The Sounders were unbeaten in their first seven matches before falling to LAFC.

The month of June wasn’t kind to Seattle. They were missing out on international stars, which didn’t help the team. Seattle lost every match in June, except for the last match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Now, Seattle is looking to get another win-streak back on track.

Seattle Sounders FC vs. Atlanta United FC
2019 MLS Regular Season
CenturyLink Field
July 14, 2019 — 12:55 p.m. PT/3:55 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

What to Watch For

Welcome home, Cristian, Jordan and Raúl

The remaining internationals are back home.

After featuring in their respective final matches at the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Copa America, Cristian Roldan, Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz are back in Seattle. Morris and Roldan featured in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s second-place finish at the Gold Cup. Meanwhile, Ruidíaz helped Peru reach the final for the first time since 1975.

However, they fell to Brazil, who hosted the tournament.

Back in Seattle, Ruidíaz leads the Sounders in goal scoring with six goals. However, right on his heels is a defender: Kelvin Leerdam. The right back has found the back of the net five times this season, in what is his best MLS season.

Meanwhile, Morris had a hot start to the season. He didn’t compete last year, due to hurting his ACL and being out for the year. Meanwhile, Roldan has taken on more of a leadership role for the Rave Green. His presence will be needed back in the midfield, as he’s usually paired with Gustav Svensson.

All three players are anticipated to start and looking forward to building up their MLS resumes. Even more, these players are key pieces that can help Seattle earn a second-straight victory.

The Injury Report

Seattle Sounders

Rejoice, Sounders fans. There is only one name on the injury list and it’s one that fans already know of: Will Bruin. Yesterday, the Sounders announced that Bruin had successfully undergone an operation on his ACL.

Atlanta United FC

According to the MLS injury report, Atlanta has four players that are listed as out this week. Defender George Bello was subjected to a right adductor injury in late April, which will see him out for a little longer. Meanwhile, midfielders Kevin Kratz (calf) and Ezequiel Barco are out.

Barco’s injury is listed as “undisclosed.”

Meanwhile, Hector Villalba is also listed as out. He’s rehabbing a knee injury. Meanwhile, defender Florentin Pogba is listed with a hamstring injury, but with no out or questionable status.

Last Meeting: July 15, 2018

Last year was wild in Atlanta.

Jordan McCrary was given a red card in the 63rd minute, after picking up a second yellow card. Both teams had already scored by then, though. Seattle struck first on the road with a penalty from Nicolás Lodeiro right before the halftime whistle blew. Meanwhile, Atlanta responded at the beginning of the second half, with Josef Martínez scoring the equalizer.

McCrary is no longer with the team, as he features for Sacramento Republic in the USL Championship.

Prediction: Seattle 3, Atlanta 1

Atlanta is a good team, there’s no denying that. However, this is the golden-plate opportunity for Brian Schmetzer to completely out coach de Boer. He’ll likely do it, too. Schmetzer is a tactical genius. He’s switched up the centerbacks in a way that works. He’s got his attacking players back.

There’s no reason why Seattle shouldn’t win this match at home.

PHOTO: Victor Rodriguez will look to make it back into the starting lineup on Sunday, when the Sounders host Atlanta United FC back at home. Photo courtesy of Kara Durrette/Seattle Sounders.

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